Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saffron roots for Hindu touch in missionary schools

MUMBAI: The saffron combine, which rules the BMC, seems to have found a virtue in "traditional Indian" accessories like the bindi and the bangle. With an eye on the up-coming civic polls, corporators now want to tighten their grip over the aided missionary schools. The Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE), runs 150 missionary schools in and around Mumbai, most of which are aided. In a bid to promote their "Hindutva ideology", the Sena-BJP alliance has decided to take missionary schools to task for "promoting Christianity, and avoiding Hindu practices". In a meeting held by the civic education committee on Tuesday, corporators said these aided missionary schools should abide by the rules set for other schools. "They don't celebrate many of Hindu festivals. Children are even forbidden to follow Hindu traditions such as applying mehendi and wearing bindis and bangles," said Sena corporator Rajiv Chaugule. The corporators said the discipline in those schools was "too harsh" and drilled fear in the children's minds. One corporator said in some schools, it was not even mandatory for the students to sing the national song or anthem. "We have noticed that in some missionary schools, children are taught to sing only Christian hymns," said the corporator. However, Father Gregory Lobo, general-secretary of the ABE, said they did allow girls to put on bindis. "We are minority schools protected under the Constitution. We do allow kids to wear bindis and bangles; some schools even allow girls to wear mehendi, while some do not. But if there is a problem, we can ask even those schools to allow girls to put mehendi," said Father Lobo. "The only thing that we do not allow is boys wearing kadas. That is because, they often use the kadas to attack each other when they get into fights."

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